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St. Louis Looks To Reduce Homeless Veteran Population

Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

If the latest counts are accurate, the population of homeless veterans in the City of St. Louis is now zero. The city gave 51 veterans the keys to their own apartments Wednesday, providing housing for the last group of known homeless vets in the city.

At an event announcing Operation Reveille, St. Louis Department of Human Services Director Bill Siedhoff said homeless veterans have been a focus for his office.

“We feel a special obligation to homeless vets,” said Siedhoff. “And I think that’s being demonstrated across the country. We shouldn’t have one homeless vet living on the street or not having a place of their own.”

The city is also providing wrap-around services for the veterans, such as counseling and addiction treatment, in order to address some of the underlying causes of homelessness.

It’s part of what Mayor Francis Slay called the Housing First Model.

“We don’t just warehouse homeless individuals,” said Slay. “What we do, it’s called a Housing First Model. And that is a permanent supportive housing, where you get them in a place that is safe and secure and provide the services necessary to help them get back on their feet and even get a job.”

Funding for this latest push to end homelessness came from a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). All told, HUD gives the city around $13.5 million a year to combat homelessness.